- One Indulgence
When Henry Cortland, the Earl of Brenleigh, comes to London to fulfill his duty and take a wife, he also decides to first fulfill his most secret and suppressed desires. He wants to spend just one night with a man. A sultry encounter with a handsome stranger surpasses all his hopes, leaving him certain that he will live off the memories for the rest of his life.
Lord Richard Avery has grown tired of his endless string of casual relationships, yet an argument with his lover sends him right into the arms of a total stranger. But Henry is not like any lover he has ever had, and the attraction between them is more than physical. Richard wants more, but can their mutual attraction overcome Henry's family obligations and sense of duty? Can Richard convince him to follow his heart rather than the demands of family and title?
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Coming Out / Closeted, First Time, One Night Stand
Word Count: 91000
Setting: London, England
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
He couldn’t believe he was doing this. Was he really doing this? He had read many novels and stories in which people liked to convince themselves that they were sometimes dreaming when they were awake, that the poor decisions they were making weren’t really happening, but it was all such nonsense. This was happening, all right. He was finally—finally!—going to do it.
“You understand, my lord, that this is an unusual request.”
Henry Cortland, Earl of Brenleigh, snapped his head up and felt the blood run from his face. He regarded Madam Dorlet sitting on the sofa across from him. She was in her forties, perhaps, with a gentle elegance and modesty of dress that seemed drastically out of place for her profession. Her voice was level and assured, like the no-nonsense dialogue of a governess.
“But I…” he began. “I was led to understand that you… That is, that your establishment here does…”READ MORE
“Forgive me, my lord, if I gave you a false impression. Of course I can provide the service you are requesting, and I have done so before for other gentlemen. I merely want you to understand that it is uncommon, and I therefore cannot assure you that there will be any, shall we say, takers for your request. Gentlemen who utilize my rooming services usually have an understanding among themselves beforehand.”
Other gentlemen, those of a certain persuasion, knew of each other and were confident in arranging encounters. He, however, knew nothing. Henry twisted his hands in his lap and hated himself for it. He was acting like a nervous wreck, something not at all typical of him. Except in situations like this. Oh! Who was he fooling? There had never been a situation like this. Never.
Not even once.
“Allow me to suggest again, my lord,” Madam Dorlet continued, her voice softening, “that you consider allowing one of my gentlemen to keep you company this evening. Edmund is a very pleasant young man, quite pretty and accommodating. Or Jonathan, if you would prefer company of a more…imposing nature.”
Do you want an effeminate boy to play with, or a broad-chested Corinthian to master you? Henry swallowed hard. The woman certainly had a way of polishing up the most scandalous questions, didn’t she? But no. He was adamant.
“No. I told you before, I don’t want a wh—a whore.” Henry cringed again.
She inclined her head. “I understand, of course. Discretion and safety are also services, and this house provides them. I will make discreet inquiries this evening and see if I cannot find a gentleman with your particular taste. Of course, I would be in a much better position to please you if I knew what sort of company you were looking for.”
He ground his teeth, but if plain speaking was the only way to achieve his goal, then he might as well try. He would hardly shock her. “I would prefer someone…tall. I mean, it’s not an absolute necessity, but I don’t want someone…” He trailed off again and turned his gaze on the window.
This was a bad idea. I should leave.COLLAPSE
What a gift it's been to discover Linda Gastrell's clear yet elegantly nuanced writing and her pitch-perfect storytelling. One Indulgence is about Henry, an earl who wants to experience having sex with a man just one before being trapped in an arranged marriage, and Richard, a Duke's son whose serendipitous arrival makes Henry's wish come true. Gastrell's description of emotions and body language is almost unobtrusively effective, but then you notice the delicious and sometimes poignant word choices she uses. Her vocabulary dances, lures, reels you in as she leads you through balls, garden parties, gaming hells, private clubs, and settings I haven't yet encountered in this genre. Her characters are flawed, passionate, but mostly decent and humane - you might end up wanting to protect, comfort, and celebrate with them as they face the repressive and oppressive strictures that woven into Regency England. I bought this book hoping it would not be yet another poorly written, pale imitation romance. Gastrell delivers a dramatic, sometimes painful, but ultimately beautiful story. Can't wait to read her next one.